Friday, October 3, 2014

ENELL AMBASSADOR: Blue Ridge Veteran's 5K - Sept. 14, 2014

Well, as you can see, I'm a wee bit behind in getting this post shared! Life has gotten busy for me with my awesome 8-5 career in the medical library so I haven't had as much time to focus on writing posts and creating new recipes... However, I have been able to incorporate a lot more movement into my everyday.... and that all started a little over a month ago because I wanted to celebrate 1 year of my Dad's new heart! 

Today (probably 10 days after starting this post!) is day 22 33 of getting up super early to start a daily practice of walking each morning. That doesn't mean I've taken a walk, every single morning... but it means I'm keeping track and it means I'm making a positive, enthusiastic effort... and that's a big change!

It's funny how life works. About this time a few months ago I was talking to my wellness coach, Cheryl, saying that I would put exercise on hold for the month. After several months of not meeting my exercise goals (AT ALL) I was frustrated and just didn't feel worrying about it. It was time to put it on the back burner and focus on other things.... 

And then magically it just sort of happened anyway. I received the email from ENELL saying I had been chosen as one of their blog ambassadors and I knew if I wanted to be honest about my use of the wonderful products that ENELL makes, I had to start walking again. 

To encourage and support myself to start walking again, I signed up for a 5K. I had not participated in a 5K in several years. 

This 5K was special to me, not only to signify getting back on my journey to health & wellness, but to celebrate the one-year birthday of my Dad's new heart... one year of amazing lifegiving heart-beats. I'm so thankful for that heart transplant, I'm so thankful that my Dad has been given more time. 

Dad's had a rough go at it. It hasn't been an easy year. With a very suppressed immune system, he's spent more time in the hospital than at home... but amazingly he keeps going. He keeps on, keepin' on. And that is a lot harder than you might think. When life becomes more about getting your medications right, losing physical strength and slowly regaining it back only to be side-lined by a broken ankle... life has not been easy for my Dad this year. 

If Dad's taught me anything this year, it's to NEVER give up. Life will not go according to our plans... but we have to keep going. People need us, we need to learn resilience and persistence, and we have to learn why life is worth it. Life is so worth it. 

To celebrate my Dad's new heart, I wanted to do this walk. I wanted to get my own health back on track with physical activity and to celebrate the beginning of this journey with the Blue Ridge Veteran's 5K Celebration. And what's a better cause than to celebrate with this country's great veterans? 

I proudly wore my ENELL gear and walked the 5K with my stepmom Betty in 51 minutes and 43 seconds! We were very proud! (And Betty is definitely in better shape than I am! :-) 

There were about 60 participants in this 5K and it included many US Veterans in the Roanoke area of Virginia. I was so honored to walk beside them and support their foundation, support my dad, and share my love of ENELL and their . It was such a great day, despite the cloudy weather! 

Afterwards we all went back to the rehab center to spend a few more hours with my Dad before we returned home to eastern NC. Dad was very proud of excited for us... and it just so happens after 3 months of being in and out of hospitals and rehabs... he's going home tomorrow! 

We love you so much Dad! And we're supporting you and SO glad you're going home!

GLG Disclosure: 
This post is part of a new series sponsored by ENELLThe ENELL Ambassador program provides fitness apparel and pays for fitness event registration fees in exchange for blog posts shared about the blogger's  fitness experience. The opinions in this post are completely my own. I , and other bloggers in the Enell Ambassador Program are not monetarily compensated for any blog posts written for/or about ENELL products. 

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Monday, September 8, 2014

Celebrating 1 year of Dad's New Heart -- with a little help from ENELL

Walking at 5am... I never thought this would be something I'd enjoy!

Today marks 10 days that I've gotten up super duper early (well at least for ME... I know other people do this all the time! God Bless You!) and spent 45 minutes - an hour or more taking a daily walk.

I've been doing this mainly to practice for a 5K that I'm walking this upcoming Sunday, September 14th in honor of my Dad. It will mark 1 full year since my Dad received his "new" heart. Dad has had a lot of ups & downs since receiving his heart.

His body has had to readjust to life with new medications, recovering from bouts of illness (due to taking immuno-suppressants, etc..), and now recovering from a broken ankle with more major surgery. My Dad is truly a miracle man. He's survived more than most people could and I'm so proud of him these past few months as he's managed to maintain a positive attitude despite having to live in a rehab facility and learn how to walk again... on TOP of all the health/suppressed immune system challenges of having a new heart.

Dad you're amazing! 
I hope you realize what a miracle you are and how inspiring you are to me 
(and SO many others)! 

I wrote a post a few weeks ago about being a new ENELL Ambassador. ENELL is a sports apparel company for well-endowed women. Their goal is to help women of ALL sizes to have sports bras & t-shirts that are made just for them to help them feel both supported and comfortable in their health & wellness journeys.  When I was chosen as an Ambassador (rather shockingly to me!) I decided that if I truly wanted to represent this company I needed to faithfully use the equipment and seriously get started on my journey to health.

So I've started a daily practice of walking. My general goal every day before work is to walk two miles. I live in a small neighborhood in a rural area in eastern NC. I'm surrounded by tobacco fields, cotton fields, sweet potato fields, cantaloupe and watermelon fields (all depending on the seasons!) horse & cattle farms, etc...

This week when my first package of ENELL sports gear came in, I was honestly too excited to wear it. The new sports bra is part of their seasonal limited edition color series and it is shiny teal SCUBA BLUE! Along with it came a black warm up jacket (wayyyy too warm for that yet!), a super breathable hat, and the coolest work-out t-shirt I've ever seen! "I'm kind of a BIG DEAL!" ENELL you are so awesome!

By day 4 of my morning walks, I had to try out the new sports bra & t-shirt. Let me tell you, this is the MOST comfortable sports bra & t-shirt I have ever worn when working out. ENELL's products are such high quality that they actually help you WANT to go out and take a walk! I love not only the chest support that the bra provides, but it's really awesome back & core support as well!

And on my walks I try to get at least one picture of the morning sky... here are a few of my favorites over the past 10 days...

So far in 10 days I've walked 27 miles, more than I've done in the past 2 years! :-) I've been able to stick to it (probably more because I HAVE to get up early since my work schedule has changed... so we'll say that's a POSITIVE outcome of having to open the library every day! lol)... and Michael has even joined me on several mornings.

Next Monday I'll recap the 5K that we're walking in celebration of my Dad's first year with his new heart and share more about my daily walking practice and future 5K's we plan on participating in!

Do you have a daily practice? 

GLG Disclosure: 
This post is part of a new series sponsored by ENELLThe ENELL Ambassador program provides fitness apparel and pays for fitness event registration fees in exchange for blog posts shared about the blogger's  fitness experience. The opinions in this post are completely my own. I , and other bloggers in the Enell Ambassador Program are not monetarily compensated for any blog posts written for/or about ENELL products. 

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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Celebrating Local NC Food: Baby Back Ribs with the NC Pork Council

This month's signature cut with the NC Pork Council is RIBS! OTHER than my husband (who isn't a fan of any meat on the bone....I know... I have no idea...???)... WHO doesn't love ribs?

I love them! And honestly, I don't make them as often as I should. Especially in the summer, as ribs just seem like the ideal hot summer meal.

I've chosen my slow cooker as my cooking element of choice for these recipes with the pork council! I love using a slow cooker, it's so easy and since we don't grill out much, it's a great option. Also, proteins are not my cooking specialty and it seems like whenever I go the easy route and make them in the slow cooker, they're always perfect!

When I think of ribs, I generally think of savory, crispy pork slathered in a tangy barbecue sauce. I didn't have any barbecue sauce on-hand and I wanted to go in a different direction. I wanted to do something with an Asian flavor, so I started looking up recipes in my cookbooks at home.

I ran across a recipe in "The Food Lover's Make it Paleo" cookbook by Bill Staley and Haley Mason. The recipe sounded good to me because it had Asian flavors, but also didn't use soy sauce, which is really helpful since I'm allergic to soy.

I changed the recipe a bit, just adding several additional spices that we enjoy. You basically make an easy rub for the ribs and then several hours into slow cooking you drizzle a sesame ginger glaze over them.

The ribs caramelize will then caramelize a bit and with the fat that cooks through, they have a wonderful flavor and texture. When they have finished cooking they are fall-off-the-bone delicious. We served the ribs with slow cooked collard greens &amp (made in another slow cooker) and cinnamon sugar sweet potatoes, which I covered in foil and placed beneath the ribs. The sweet potatoes cooked right underneath the ribs, a technique I love using with root vegetables and even ears of corn. (You can find both of those recipes in my Everything Gluten-Free Slow Cooker Cookbook.)

That's another fun thing about using a slow cooker, you can cook several components of a meal in addition to one-dish meals! Super easy peasy and kinda fun as well!

Slow Cooked Chinese Spiced Ribs
adapted from a recipe in "The Food Lover's Make it Paleo" by Bill Staley and Haley Mason
free of gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, and nuts
printer-friendly recipe

Rub Ingredients: 
  • 3-5 pounds baby back ribs
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon Saigon cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar or crystallized maple sugar or coconut palm sugar
Glaze Ingredients: 
  • 3-4 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1/3 cup coconut aminos (a savory substitute for soy sauce, if you're cool with soy, use GF soy sauce!)
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger root, minced
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon molasses or brown sugar
  1. In a large bowl of a bag mix together Chinese five-spice powder, curry powder, ground ginger, ground cardamom, Saigon cinnamon, and brown sugar. 
  2. Pat the rub generously over the baby back ribs, that have been cut into portions. Place the ribs into a greased 4-6 quart slow cooker and cook on LOW heat for 4-5 hours. (Alternately, you can cook on HIGH for 2 hours)
  3. Around the 4-5 hour mark mix the glaze ingredients together in a small bowl or glass measuring cup. Pour evenly over the ribs and continue to cook ribs another 2-3 hours on low heat. (Alternately, IF you are cooking on HIGH heat, around the 2-3 hour mark, mix the glaze together, pour over ribs and cook an additional 2 hours on HIGH heat.)
  4. When ready to serve, cut slow cooker off and allow ribs to cool for 30 minutes before serving. We served with slow cooked collard greens and cinnamon-sugar sweet potatoes. 

Previous Posts written in conjunction with the NC Pork Council

GLG Disclosure: 
This post is part of a new monthly series featuring local NC pork products sponsored by the North Carolina Pork CouncilThe NC Pork Council provided me with a gift certificate to purchase pork products and create a recipe to share. The opinions and photography in this post are completely my own.

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